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Tennant delights as 'Doctor Who'

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You can certainly say this about the latest incarnation of "Doctor Who": It's not slow-paced.

The cheeky English series, which returns 7 p.m. Friday on Sci Fi, fairly buzzes with energy, and its characters are often on the run from some nasty alien or other. That's not necessarily a byproduct of this version of "Who" being a post-Millennium creation. In the long life of the series, which has had many doctors over the course of its 40-plus years, one of the primary guidelines seems to have been, "When in doubt, run about."

Still, no matter how frenetic the pace gets or how preposterous the tentacle-waving monsters, David Tennant is simply delightful as the most recent incarnation of the Doctor. His eyes dance with irreverence, and he delivers his insouciant, knowing dialogue perfectly. Yet there's something magnetic about him too, as if he were holding something -- possibly something dangerous -- in reserve. That gives his version of the Doctor an air of mystery, which is even more necessary to the character than his trusty sonic screwdriver. (If you're interested in Tennant but not necessarily in "Who," check out the DVDs of the recent British series "Viva Blackpool," which Tennant was also excellent in and which is being adapted as a fall series by CBS).

In Friday's first "Who" adventure, which was a Christmas special in England, the doctor assists a runaway bride who didn't so much flee as get zapped by alien particles. Don't you hate it when that happens? Never mind that this time around, the madcap plot doesn't have too much emotional resonance, as the best "Who" episodes of the last few years have had.

There's still a subtle undercurrent of grief, given that the Doctor is mourning the departure of his last companion, Rose (Billie Piper). And the fast pace and the irreverent one-liners keep things hopping, even if, as is often the case, the muddled plot gets a muddled and overlong resolution.

In Friday's second "Who" episode at 8:30 p.m., the trusty Doctor has to fight alien rhino guys on the moon (geez, that plot again?), and he also meets his next companion, the feisty medical student Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman). It's just a plain old sci-fi romp, but a well-done one.

For those who have no time for traditional alien adventures done with a self-aware sense of humor, this series won't be of much interest. But for those who like this larky Doctor, the new season of "Who" is starting off promisingly. All I can do is cross my fingers (and tentacles) and hope that the work of Russell T. Davies, the head writer of the post-Millennial "Who" series, doesn't falter this season. Previous seasons of the show have had their share of abysmally boring and derivative episodes -- dross that even Tennant can't rescue.

But Tennant and Agyeman are, so far, a promising duo. If only the Doctor would lose his unfortunate Season 3 fauxhawk, I could fully get on board. I can handle a screaming bride, a giant evil spider from space and alien rhinos on the moon, but a hairstyle that is two years past its sell-by date? That's pushing it.

Caption: Photo (color): Doctor Who (David Tennant) meets his next companion, Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman).

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  • APA 6th ed.: Ryan, Maureen (2007-07-06). Tennant delights as 'Doctor Who'. Chicago Tribune p. sec. 5, p. 6.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Ryan, Maureen. "Tennant delights as 'Doctor Who'." Chicago Tribune [add city] 2007-07-06, sec. 5, p. 6. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Ryan, Maureen. "Tennant delights as 'Doctor Who'." Chicago Tribune, edition, sec., 2007-07-06
  • Turabian: Ryan, Maureen. "Tennant delights as 'Doctor Who'." Chicago Tribune, 2007-07-06, section, sec. 5, p. 6 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Tennant delights as 'Doctor Who' | url= | work=Chicago Tribune | pages=sec. 5, p. 6 | date=2007-07-06 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=14 June 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Tennant delights as 'Doctor Who' | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=14 June 2024}}</ref>